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What to do if a loved one dies

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When a loved one dies, there are practical tasks that need to be done while you plan the funeral. The following checklist details the various things that you will need to do:

Getting the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death

The cause of death must be verified by a doctor. Once the doctor is satisfied with the circumstances of the death, a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be issued.

If the cause of death is unknown or there are suspicious circumstances, the coroner’s office will be contacted to conduct an investigation into the cause of death. If the coroner is involved, you cannot register the death until the coroner has issued the appropriate documentation.

Registering the death and obtaining the Death Certificate

To register the death, you must submit the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages at a registry office. You will need to do this within five days if you are in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, or eight days if you are in Scotland.

The Government’s register a death tool may be useful to find out if you can register the death yourself and see what the next steps are. Once you have registered the death of your loved one, you will be issued the Death Certificate and the Certificate for Burial or Cremation. The Death Certificate will cost £4.00 in England and Wales, £8.00 in Northern Ireland and £10.00 in Scotland. The Certificate for Burial or Cremation is free.

The Tell Us Once service allows you to report the death to most government organisations in one go. When you register the death ask the registrar if the service is available in your area.

The registration of a death can be made by a relative, someone present at the death, an administrator from the hospital or the person making the funeral arrangements.

You will need to provide the following personal details about them:

  • Their full name
  • Their maiden name or any previous names
  • Their last address
  • Their place and date of birth
  • The place and date of death
  • Their occupation
  • The full name, date of birth and occupation of their spouse
  • Information about any benefits or state pension they were receiving

Proof of these details may be asked for by the registry office. In case this happens, having the following documents can help:

  • Birth certificate
  • Council tax bill
  • Driving licence
  • Marriage or Civil Partnership Certificate
  • NHS medical card
  • Proof of address
  • Passport

After registering the death, you will be issued a Death Certificate and the Certificate for Burial or Cremation. Once issued you can then continue with the funeral arrangements.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.